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The cost of college is a serious issue in the United States. Remember though, that the US has the best colleges in the world, and like anything else, there is a price to pay for that. Nevertheless, the true cost of college is misleading. Top colleges are cheaper than you think, says the New York Times, which compiled data from an online calculator.
The key finding is that top colleges are more affordable than many people realize – both for poor and for middle-class students.
Low-Income, Middle Class, and The Affluent
How much do lower-income students pay? Lower-income students – defined as families with $50,000 or less in annual income – pay only $6,000. Students can often cover that cost through part-time work and a small annual loan.
Middle-class families pay a higher price, but nowhere near the list price. Only affluent families pay close to the list price. New York Times defines affluent families with an annual income of at least $175,000 and a net worth of a half-million dollars or more. College bill at many private colleges, including tuition, fees, room and board, has reached the sum of $70,000 a year. For affluent families this can be unpleasant, but not enough to disrupt their lives, which is what colleges look at.
The findings are summarized in the figure below.
High vs Low Prices
The New York Times argues that colleges with huge list prices aren’t the biggest problem because they often offer substantial financial aid and have high graduation rates. Low-income students at least graduate with manageable amounts of debt and get good jobs.
The real problem is with lower list prices -- private and public colleges -- because of lower graduation rates. So students emerge with debt and no degree, which is a terrible combination. You can find more info here.
Costs at colleges are not identical. Not surprisingly, colleges that charge more tend to have smaller endowments, giving that they have fewer resources to pay for financial aid. Some of the least expensive selective colleges for poor and middle-class students often have the largest endowments. Amherst, Dartmouth and Williams are all examples. Yale stands out for providing the most financial aid to middle-class students, charging them only slightly more than poor students. Harvard, Princeton and Stanford have similar policies.
For both poor and middle-class students, such colleges tend to be significantly cheaper than even four-year public universities! So don't assume that private colleges are more expensive than the public ones. Often they are not. Do your research and find out.
Are you prepared for college? Many high schools do not adequately prepare students for the rigor of college, and many students struggle during their freshmen year. Some burn out. Some quit. If high school was easy for you, make sure you take more advanced classes, including programming in Python and Java, if you are pursuing an engineering, math or science degree. There are many college courses available on Coursera and edX. Check them out to see if you are ready or not for college. We at Hillview Prep would be happy to guide you through the process.
It is important to plan carefully for college, as you very well know. However, given people's busy schedules, it is easier said than done. We at Hillview Prep specialize in college test prep, scholarships and applications. We would be happy to help you with college consulting -- from finding the best scholarships to financial aid to choosing the colleges that fits you the best. If interested, sign up below!
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There are numerous smart students who fail to score their best and come in short--and they don't why. One of the biggest mistakes students make is misunderstanding how to prepare for the GMAT. The GMAT is a unique test. It is not testing your knowledge; rather, it tests your abilities. In a very short amount of time you have to find clever strategies to answer questions.
Your first step is designing an effective study plan, so you avoid wasting your time and effort on the wrong strategies.
1. Don’t Underestimate the GMAT
Many students underestimate the GMAT and what it takes to prepare for it. They think it is like any other test and give themselves only a few days to prepare--or prepare the wrong things. They leave a week or a month for preparation. Unfortunately, that does not work with GMAT. According to GMAC, the average prospective MBA student spends a year on the process. If you don’t, you may find yourself trying to cram for the GMAT. And that will not work.
2. Don't Underestimate the Competition
GMAT students typically are ambitious and have degrees. They believe in doing their best and usually do. Unfortunately, the GMAT is cut-throat!! It is very competitive and pits you against other test-takers from all around the world. Your score is determined by how you perform in relation to your peers. And it is getting more and more competitive as strategies (like the ones here) and test material are now available to more people around the world. You better believe that you are in a very competitive ring, with invisible and smart opponents. You have to put your A game on--always!
3. Don't Study; Practice
GMAT tests your skills and not your knowledge. You already have enough knowledge, so spending time rote learning the concepts is a waste of time. Most of your learning will be problem solving the GMAT style questions. It is almost like learning a new language. You build your cognitive abilities through practice and you build your skills little by little and over time.
4. Don't Rely on Substitutes
The GMAT is very specific, and you can get trapped if you use material made by others. Be careful! Use the official test questions, and use them wisely. This is not to suggest that you should only prepare with official test questions. Look at other publishers to gain an understanding of the GMAT, and then use the official test questions to understand where you are having problems. Use your official tests strategically. Don't use them early on, and don't use them to get comfortable. Use them when you think you know enough of what is asked on the GMAT. Then test yourself with the real questions and learn what problems you are having. And then practice.
4. Don't Forget to Know Thyself!
Know thyself sounds like a cliche, but it is true. You have to know what kinds of questions you get wrong and why. You have to know what is easy for you. Each person's decision making is unique. You have to understand how you make decisions and how you think. Is inference hard or easy for you? That is particularly important as GMAT is very inferential. Improve your inferential thinking by studying great fiction! Yes, reading is a big deal.
5. Don't Forget to read, read, read
University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson argues eloquently that reading should not be an academic exercise, but should be for the purpose, in words he borrows from Keats, of “soul-forming.” The value of reading is “the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of people who—let us admit it—are more sensitive, more articulate, shrewder, sharper, more alive than [we ourselves] are. The experience of merging minds and hearts with Proust or James or Austen makes you see that there is more to the world than you had ever imagined. You see that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than you had thought.”
So go read some great fiction and improve your expertise in grasping inferences!
6. Don't Neglect the Verbal Section
Many test takers are intimidated by the GMAT’s quantitative section, especially if they don't have a strong analytical background. But don’t neglect the verbal section. Your final score out of 800 is weighted slightly more in favor of the verbal section.
The verbal reasoning section tests your reasoning ability. It is not about business English. It is not about vocabulary. Many native English-speakers have found out the hard way that being native speakers is not sufficient to get a good score. You will be challenged on your verbal reasoning ability. There are GMAT-specific rules that are not always intuitive, so be careful.
If you want to work on your GMAT preparation, give us a shot. Sign up today!
Have you heard of “dockets,” “the lop list,” “tips,” “DE,” the “Z-list” and the “dean’s interest list”? The last term probably gave you a hint. It is about college. What does these mean and which college?
We are talking about Harvard, arguably the most elite and prestigious college in the world.
These terms are part of the secret language of the Harvard admissions team. Students who apply to Harvard work very hard and believe that if they have checked all the right boxes, they would be admitted. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A recent lawsuit has revealed the real deal of the Harvard's admissions committee. It is a Wizard of Oz experience! The lawsuit reveals that Harvard uses racial balancing to shape its admissions in a way that discriminates against Asian-Americans. According to the New York Times, the plaintiffs accuse Harvard of jiggering its selection process to create a stable racial profile from year to year: this year is was about 23 percent Asian-American, 16 percent African-American, and 12 percent Latino.
But if Harvard were race-blind, the plaintiffs say, its freshman class would be about 40 percent Asian-American, like the University of California, Berkeley, a public institution that has to abide by a state ban on racial preferences.
More than a dozen elite US institutions say it is essential to consider race and ethnicity as part of the admissions process – but supporters of the lawsuit say the treatment of Asians parallels the exclusion of Jews in the 1920s
The Trump administration has taken an interest in the issue, opening a parallel investigation based on a separate 2015 complaint to the Justice Department by a coalition of Asian-American organizations.
The stakes in the admissions have never been higher. About 40,000 students apply each year, and about 2,000 are admitted for some 1,600 seats in the freshman class. The chances of admission in 2018 were under 5 percent. Of the 26,000 domestic applicants for the Class of 2019 (the lawsuit is not concerned with international students), about 3,500 had perfect SAT math scores, 2,700 had perfect SAT verbal scores, and more than 8,000 had straight A’s.
Harvard divides the country into 20 geographic “dockets,” each of which is assigned to a subcommittee of admissions officers with intimate knowledge of that region and its high schools.
Generally two or three admissions officers, or readers, rate applications in five categories: academic, extracurricular, athletic, personal and “overall.” They also rate teachers’ and guidance counselors’ recommendations. And an alumni interviewer also rates the candidates.
The proverbial Picket Fence:
The plaintiffs say that the private score — which considers an applicant’s character and character — is essentially the most insidious of Harvard’s admissions metrics. They are saying that Asian-People are routinely described as industrious and clever, however unexceptional and indistinguishable — characterizations that recall painful stereotypes for many individuals of Asian descent. (The applicant who was the “proverbial picket fence” was Asian-American.)
DE stands for “distinguishing excellence.”
“Tips” are admissions advantages. The college gives tips to five groups: racial and ethnic minorities; legacies, or the children of Harvard or Radcliffe alumni; relatives of a Harvard donor; the children of staff or faculty members; and recruited athletes.
The 'Dean's Interest' List:
These lists are named for the dean and director of admissions, and include the names of candidates who are of interest to donors or have connections to Harvard, according to the court papers.
The final decisions are made by a committee of about 40 admissions officers over two or three weeks in March. Meeting in a conference room, they argue over candidates who are “on the bubble” between admission and rejection.
This is a sort of back door to admissions. The list consists of applicants who are borderline academically, the plaintiffs say, but whom Harvard wants to admit. They often have connections. They may be “Z-ed” (yes, a verb) off the wait-list, and are guaranteed admission on the condition that they defer for a year.
About 50 to 60 students a year were admitted through the Z-list for the Classes of 2014 to 2019.
You have to ask the question if merit is really important to Harvard and other schools? It does not seems to be. Well, in one way, you should not be surprised. You assume people and institutions are rational and make rational decisions, but even Harvard does not.
So, if you didn't get into Harvard, despite having perfect test scores, GPA and other requirements, don't blame yourself. Find another route towards your dream.